The Miracle of Life

20 Jun 2013 Comments 0

A few years ago became a grandmother for the first time. Little Elisa Josephine was born in Holland and in true grandmotherly style, I hot footed it across to see this new little being when she was just two weeks old. I was totally unprepared for the depth of emotion I would experience, and the instant bonding with another generation of Chaplin’s that occurred. I was blown away by this beautiful new soul and the miracle of her life. Those perfect little hands, those tiny ears… I could go on forever! It has added incredible impetus to my embracing of the technological age in the form of my learning to use Skype and to put pictures on my cell phone to show off to friends!

Now I may be a besotted granny but this joyful experience did bring two things home to me. Firstly, how often we rush through life without really stopping to savour the moment. We get so hung up on paying our bills, buying our new car, moving on, moving upwards, that we forget to just stop and breathe. When did you last look around you in awe and recognise just how truly amazing it is that we are here and that we exist at all? Life is pretty awesome when you stop to think about it and also very fleeting. I can certainly vouch for the fact that time speeds up as we get older. We become so immersed in the game of life that we fail to stop and appreciate the fragility and brevity of our existence. It is a good discipline to step outside of one’s self occasionally and to ask the question: “If this was my last day left, how I would choose to spend it?” What would you do differently and who would you contact if today was the day your “transfer papers” arrived? Who do you need to mend your fences with? Who needs to be told you love them? What peaks have you yearned to scale and left for later?

Secondly, introducing myself to this new little human being and experiencing her uniqueness made me reflect on how much we hide or deny ourselves as we go through life. When we are born we are complete within ourselves and we demand to have our needs met. We cry when hungry, cold or wet, we smile when we are happy. We have no angst or fear of rejection. That only comes later. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are perfect droplets from the river of life. Slowly life teaches us to relinquish parts of ourselves and unless we are grounded in a really strong self image, we start to dilute the essence of who we are, in order to fit in and to gain approval. Of course it is necessary for us to learn to live together and value each other but the sad part is that in diluting ourselves we often deny the very essence of who we are, the skills and talents that we bought into the world to share with others. We stop basking in our own individuality and allow mediocrity to enter in. We allow ourselves a diluted existence where we never taste the full flavour of being alive. There is a saying that God has a plan for this world and will achieve it with or without our help, but it is so much more fun to be part of the action!

On a lighter note, it was interesting to observe the Dutch medical system as it applies to ante and post natal care. I was very impressed with the level and quality of support. The system is based on a belief that natural is best and excellent supervision is combined with a minimum of non essential intervention. The big medical guns are available however if they should be needed and there is lots of midwife support both before and after the birth.

I have read that Holland is rated as the country with the happiest children in the world and it is easy to see why. Dutch people seem to love babies and chat freely to mums to be and new mums, giving a feeling of caring and community. People travel around on bicycles equipped with little carts in front for small toddlers to sit in. There is a wealth of social service support available to ensure that parents are coping with their offspring and it is not considered “wimpy” for men to be actively involved in rearing their children. It is quite common to see house husbands who have elected to be the primary care giver whilst the wife becomes the major breadwinner. There is a fluidity and avoidance of stereotypes that encourages families to develop ways of functioning best suited to them.

It would be wonderful to see a similar level of medical and community care developed here in South Africa for all those young parents struggling to raise a family and make ends meet. How wonderful if we managed to do away with our stereotypes and develop a deep respect for the sacredness of every member of our nation. That truly would be in keeping with the miracle of the birth of our rainbow nation with its rich diversity of culture and social patterns.

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